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Latin Expressions explores urbanity in culture

Luisa Cabrera | Friday, March 30, 2007

Latin Expressions, one of the longest-running cultural shows at Notre Dame, will combine modern and traditional entertainment to give the University community a taste of Latin flavor tonight at 7 in Saint Mary’s O’Laughlin Auditorium, and the main change this year will be opening the production to Latin cultures other than those native to Mexico.

The event, sponsored by La Alianza, allows students from different backgrounds to come together to celebrate both the diversity and similarities of their cultures. This year’s theme is “MetropoLatino,” and the show will focus on conveying an understanding of modern urbanity through a combination of folklore, pop culture and high culture.

Senior Yadira Huerta, the show’s director, said this year’s show will feature performances of dances from throughout Latin America.

“This year marks the first Latin Expressions ever to incorporate an unprecedented amount of traditional, folkloric dances from all over Latin America – not simply Mexico, as has been seen in years past,” Huerta said.

Junior Edianys Deynes, the current secretary for La Alianza, who first danced in the show at age 10, said the show successfully “fuses traditional styles with the growing trend of urbanization to form a metropolitan style all its own.”

Some members of La Alianza expressed concern that the show was losing its traditional values, but Huerta disagreed with these perspectives.

“Every year the show is evolving … the traditional value of the show has proven to be rooted in the spirit of inclusion,” Huerta said. “What better way to carry forth La Alianza’s mission of educating the Notre Dame campus about Latino culture than by inviting them to be directly involved, to share in and to experience a small part of it?”

The show invites participants of all ethnicities to take part in the acts.

Junior Michelle Mas, a master of ceremonies for the event, says La Alianza doesn’t “play the race card.”

Mas said this same theme applies to the actual show. There is not a sense of competition between the participating Latin American countries, Mas said, but instead an understanding that each country equally represents Latin American culture.

Junior Erin Duquette is one of the non-minority students participating in the event. Though she initially felt that participation in events like La Alianza was limited to minorities, Duquette decided to become a part of it and said she feels honored to take part in the 2007 show.

“I spent last semester abroad in Mexico and fell in love with many aspects of the rich Latino culture,” Duquette said. “I thought participating in this year’s Latin Expressions would be a good way to get to know more about my peers from different backgrounds and to express my appreciation for Latin American culture.”

Macarena Ivanissevich, a junior from Argentina, said she believed the show triumphs in its illustration of the recent boom of the urban Latino lifestyle, which has been growing for years now, but has just recently entered into the mainstream.

“As a Latina, I feel that we should try to introduce our culture as being modern and more than just folklore,” Ivanissevich said.

The show also includes traditional dances from Bolivia, Peru and Mexico.

Junior Carla Sanchez will be dancing in the Caporales, a typical Bolivian dance that dates back to the colonial period, when natives would make fun of the fancy clothes of the Spaniards and copy their styles in the form of this flirtatious dance. Sanchez brought her costume from Bolivia, where the dance is very popular among all social classes and is usually danced at Carnaval and in special celebrations for the Virgin Mary.

“I think that the focus of Latin Expressions is to show a little of all the different types of dances in the region, with the combination of typical dances and modern dances portraying what Latin America is today,” Sanchez said.

For junior Mauricio Ormachea, who is performing in a rock band ensemble, the opportunity to perform is the most valuable aspect of this production.

“I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, and the chance to do it in front of thousands, to communicate a message of pride, is quite thrilling,” he said.